Destination ChesCo: Tyler Arboretum, a Whimsical Adventure

Tyler Arboretum
Tyler Arboretum in Media, PA, is comprised of 650 acres of renowned plant collections, heritage and champion trees, historic buildings and 17 miles of hiking trails. (Image by Rachel Stevenson)

While not directly located in Chester County, the Tyler Arboretum in Media, PA is only a stone’s throw away from Chadds Ford and well worth the ten-minute detour off of Route 1.

Bordering Ridley Creek State Park and only a few blocks from Penn State’s Brandywine Campus, the Tyler Arboretum “is a place of natural beauty and history dating back to the time of William Penn” which “began as a collection of over 1,000 ornamental plants amassed by brothers Minshall and Jacob Painter for scientific study,” according to the property website.


Tyler Arboretum
Yellow foliage scattered across the landscape like snow. (Image via Rachel Stevenson)

After parking my car in the large visitor’s lot, I headed toward the orange visitor’s center to purchase a ticket. While Tyler members are free, visitors to the property pay a mere $7 to $11 to tour the grounds. As a bonus, kids under three are free. And with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas, the arboretum is open year round.


The rear door opened to the trail and I began my walk around, what felt like, a magical wonderland. I am far from an arborist, but one doesn’t need to be a tree expert to appreciate the stunning landscape. And the Fall season provided an added layer of beauty to the already scenic surroundings. From yellow leaves scattered among the landscape, to red trees and berry bushes skirting the walking trail, the scenery was breathtaking.

The first stop along the trail was a trio of painted tree houses built into tall hemlock tree trunks that resembled giraffe necks arching toward the sky.

The Cape May Tree provides a fun spot for kids to play. (Image via Rachel Stevenson)

I continued past berry bushes and came across a small dilapidated cabin with a metal smoke stack. The sign read “Mini Goblin Shack.” The whimsical building intrigued me. I expected a small gnome to greet me at the front door of the shack.

Once I convinced myself that there weren’t any gnomes or goblins hiding inside, I traveled down the path to the Cape May Birdhouse where kids played in a human-sized diamond-shaped bird house built by Sam Burk and Paul Farnschlader and designed to represent bluebird nest boxes.

A bright orange and green wooden caterpillar nearby adorned the play area next to the arboretum’s vegetable garden.

While I didn’t get to explore the entire property during my visit, I intend to go back soon. I hear there is also a giant guitar created from the trunk of a huge fallen scarlet oak and a catwalk bridge leading to a fort-like structure 13-feet high.

While Longwood Gardens is usually the tourist spot most talked about in the Chadds Fords area, I would argue that the Tyler Arboretum is right up there as a must-see location.

To learn more about the Tyler Arboretum, click here.